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12 Ways You’re Shortening the Life of Your Home Appliances

Are your appliances and devices on the fritz frequently, or do they need to be replaced sooner than expected? Spoiler alert: It could be your fault. Avoid these common mistakes.

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Woman Shopping For Appliances Hill Street Studios/Getty Images

Common Mistakes Can Cause Big Problems

Buying electronics and appliances can be a huge investment, and when something goes wrong with them it can also cause a huge headache. So, of course, you want to keep everything working for as long as possible.

While many of us blame the seemingly shorter lifespan of these appliances on the notion that things just aren’t made like they used to be, that’s not entirely true. Much of the time, the culprit is us. Read on for the mistakes you probably don’t even realize you’re making, which can cause the early demise of everything from your laptop and phone to your stove and toaster.

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macbook laptopMaddyZ/Shutterstock


There’s nothing more frustrating than a laptop that goes from working fine to suddenly needing to be replaced. Turns out the key to keeping our laptops longer is turning them off at least once a day. This allows the operating system to install software updates and patches so everything can run smoothly and up to snuff.

Another mistake that causes the early demise of this essential and expensive device? Failing to install anti-virus and malware programs. And that’s just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

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Smartphone Plug In with Charger Adapter on Blue Background Top Viewinspire finder/Shutterstock


If you feel you need to replace your smartphone way before the newest one comes out, it’s probably because you’re letting it overheat. According to PCMag, a major cause of this is something most of us are guilty of: Charging our devices overnight. In fact, your phone is at risk of overheating every time you keep it plugged in with a full battery.

And while many of us know it’s best to leave our phone at home when we go to the pool or beach, water damage isn’t the biggest risk. An article from Time Magazine reveals too much heat exposure from the sun can cause lots of problems, including battery leakage and loss of data. Avoiding overheating is a good idea if you want to extend the life of your phone and charger.

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how to unshrink clothesEvgeny Atamanenko/Shutterstock


It may be tempting, but shoving that extra towel or T-shirt into your washer is a bad idea. Constant overloading wears out washing machine mechanisms like the central agitator.

Another culprit is using too much detergent. While you might be tempted to put in an extra pod or capful for really dirty clothes, it can increase the time of the rinse cycle. Why is this such a big problem? Washing machines have a finite life, so every wash brings it closer to the end.

If you have a high-efficiency machine, you need to use even less detergent or a detergent formulated specifically for this type of washer, such as Brooke and Nora Liquid Goat Milk Detergent.

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Vacuum cleaner on carpet indoors, closeup. Cleaning serviceNew Africa/Shutterstock


No one wants to empty the dirt cup after vacuuming your entire home or even before you vacuum. But an overfilled unit will not only run less efficiently, it will also ultimately shorten the life of the appliance.

While most bagless units have a line indicating it’s time to empty the cup, it’s less obvious for bag machines. A sudden decrease in suction is a good indicator. But that’s not the only problem you need to watch out for if you want to keep your vacuum running as long as possible.

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Car speedometer with information display - Oil Change Due InfoBokic Bojan/Shutterstock


A good car doesn’t come cheap. To make yours last as long as possible, you can’t skimp on regular vehicle maintenance. One biggie: oil changes. If you wait too long to change the oil, you’re asking for trouble.

So how often are you really supposed to be doing this? According to, it depends on the make and model of your car. Check the owner’s manual. Changing the oil keeps the corrosive material and debris out of your engine, so if you live in a city it’s best to change the oil even a little sooner than the manufacturer recommends.

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Coffee blender and boiler with coffee cups on wooden table topJirat Teparaksa/Shutterstock

Coffee Maker

Why did your coffee maker stop working? Probably because you failed to maintain it. Yes, you need to clean and descale your coffee maker regularly. This removes minerals, mold, dust and other debris that build up over time, causing it to overheat and break down. If that’s not motivation enough, ingesting all of that can make you seriously ill.

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Open dishwasher with steam and clean dishes after washingLeszek Glasner/Shutterstock


Don’t try to fit in as many dishes as possible, like a game of Tetris. You’ll lose when it comes to the life of your appliance. Overloading a dishwasher can cause wear and tear to the components and lead to overheating. You’re also more likely to break dishes and glasses when trying to shove it all in. Those tiny shards of glass and ceramic can then make their way into the drain pump, where they cause all sorts of problems. Loading dishes properly can extend the life of your dishwasher.

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Refrigerator, fridge on kitchen tiled floor, blue wall background, copy space. 3d illustrationrawf8/Shutterstock


If you have a big family and you find yourself with a fridge that’s constantly full, it might be time to consider buying a larger one. That’s because overloading it places pressure on the fan blades, causing them to work improperly or even break.

Cleaning the fridge is another way you can extend its life. The coils, the internal mechanism and the outside of the fridge need to be cleaned regularly.

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Pot on the gas Stove and Cooking in Kitchen Supavadee butradee/Shutterstock


Ron Shimek, president of Mr. Appliance, a Neighborly company, says placing foil on the bottom of the oven can shorten its life. “You might think this trick makes future appliance cleaning easier,” he says. “But in the long term, this isn’t a good idea. It can block airflow and interfere with the heating element, which can cause oven failure or make recalibration necessary.”

If you’re worried about keeping your oven clean, Shimek says staying on top of regular cleanings is the way to go. But cleaning your stove the wrong way, like spraying the controls and knobs with regular household cleaners, can also create problems. “The liquid could get behind the knobs and switches and short out the control panel,” he says.

Instead, Shimek suggests spraying a rag with liquid cleaner and then rubbing the controls to prevent shorting.

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Modern kitchen interior. Kitchen interior with electric and microwave oven.BATMANV/Shutterstock


Splatters on the inside of the microwave seem harmless, so people are often lax about cleaning them up. However, according to Shimek, over time they can turn rock-hard and even burn the walls of this small appliance. “Clean out the microwave with all-purpose cleaner regularly to prevent the need for premature repairs and replacement,” he says.

You should also take care of microwave malfunctions as soon as possible.

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Roasted toast bread popping up of stainless steel toaster on a blue backgroun.Space for


Is your toast not as perfectly toasted as it should be? That’s probably because you’re not cleaning your crumb catcher every week. That’s something you really need to do, especially if you make toast every day.

If your toaster lacks a crumb tray, Shimek suggests turning it upside down in your sink and shaking out as many crumbs as possible. “Be sure to wipe down the outside of the toaster with a damp cloth to remove any crumbs that might have missed the sink,” he says. Or try out this hack on how to clean a toaster.

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blender and wooden table in kitchen S_Photo/Shutterstock


Though most blenders are technically dishwasher-safe, it’s best to carefully hand-wash this appliance. “This ensures the blades stay sharp, and ultimately keep your soups and smoothies well, smooth,” explains Shimek.

Reading the owner’s manual before you start any new appliance is always common sense, but with blenders it’s essential to avoid early burnout. “It’s important to fully understand the power of your appliance before attempting to prepare your food in the blender,” he says.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published on Reader's Digest

Amanda Lauren
A self-proclaimed "Jackie of All Trades. Marilyn of None," Amanda Lauren does everything including writing about anything lifestyle related for a number of websites as well as her blog, It's Amanda Lauren. Anything but lazy, she also has a podcast called Things We're Too Lazy To Blog About. When she isn't in front of her MacBook, she can be found on stage doing standup and sketch comedy or hosting red carpet events. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and their two dogs, Lulu and Milo.